DEV Community

Thomas Hansen
Thomas Hansen

Posted on • Updated on

Silicon Valley, the Junkyard of IT

25 years ago starting a company in Silicon Valley was "the thing". You'd get access to crucial infrastructure and people, allowing you to rapidly grow your company, having much better chances of building something great. Today it's the junkyard of IT.

Google's junk code

I remember when getting an offer to work for Google was cool. Today Google can't even deliver basic working software. We've all seen Gemini embarrassingly fail, but did you know that Google's traditional code is so bad its own QA tools will classify it as broken?

Code quality seems to be a problem that the entire organisation of Google is struggling with, and something they've struggled with for decades. This is so true that if you had shown me some random Google-based JavaScript in a job interview, I wouldn't even have hired you as an intern!

Garbage JavaScript

PageSpeed will measure your website. Some of its metrics are based upon how fast your JavaScript is. To avoid sluggish JavaScript you're supposed to avoid things such as document.write. The reason is because it makes it impossible to load your page async. This is one of those basic things any aspiring software developer will learn in a 101 web development course.

If you add any Google based JavaScript file to your webpage, such as reCAPTCHA or Google Analytics, your PageSpeed score instantly drops 50%, because Google's JavaScript code is so littered with document.write invocations that Google will classify your page as broken.

What Google considers "production grade code", is code most other people would be fired for if they delivered to any other sane employer capable of doing basic QA and static analysis of code quality.

In fact, I betcha that if you delivered the JavaScript that empowers crucial Google products such as Google Analytics, Ad Sense, or reCAPTCHA to a Google interviewer during an interview, you would fail the interview and not get the job.

This garbage JavaScript is also consistent for Google. It's not one product, it's all products, and the codebase for these products are sometimes 15 and 20 years old - So it's not as if they didn't have the time to fix it. It's been around for 15+ years.

Google Ads

When Google is measuring your website quality, some of the things they will measure is usability. The idea being that if you've got low usability, and Google sends you website visitors, this will reflect badly on Google. The result becomes that Google tries to avoid sending users to websites with bad UX.

I'm a software developer, and I've got almost 30 years of experience as a professional in the field. Some would argue that makes me "smart" when it comes to using and understanding software. It took me almost one year to figure out how to connect my Google Ads account to my website such that we could measure "conversions".

I'm not the only one struggling with this either. If you search for "how to measure conversions in your Google Ads campaign", you will find millions of websites and YouTube videos trying to explain how to do this. One marketing expert claimed his primary business proposition as a consultant was to start measuring conversions for his clients, and that he had made his entire career on this single feature and his ability to correctly implement it. To measure conversions you'll need to handle at least 3 different systems.

  • Google Ads
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Tags Manager

If one of my developers showed me a system where our users had to use 3 different systems to use our most basic core feature, I would fire the guy. In fact, I wouldn't even allow him to leave through the door, I'd throw him out the window, from 4th floor.

I am of course joking a little bit, but measuring conversions is arguably Google's primary business. It's the stuff they've built their trillion dollar empire on top of, and it's so difficult to actually use, that 80% of Google's own paying customers aren't even able to use it.

YouTube is broken

So maybe this is only their frontend code and UX, right? Surely their backend code must be better, right? I mean, surely their core infrastructure code is high quality, or?

Well, I cannot be the only guy who's noticed this. Today, 99% of all YouTube ads I am served are 100% irrelevant to me as a person. About 70% of my ads are in Greek - And even though I live in Cyprus, where the native population speaks Greek, I do not understand a single word of Greek. This implies that 70% of my YouTube ads are served in a language I don't even understand.

The rest of my ads are about some "get rich fast crypto scam", sometimes with deep fakes of Elon Musk trying to teach me how to get rich by sending all my money to some unlicensed trading firm, based in the Bahamas, with some crypto-based pump and dump scheme. Ignoring the legality of serving such ads, I have literally never given my money to such scams.

Even though Google apparently "knows everything about me", they are 100% incapable of serving me relevant ads, even though this is arguably their primary feature as an advertising agency. In fact, I'd probably be able to serve our own ads to more "relevant users" if I bought highway billboard ads than I'd be if we were using YouTube ads.

Others have done research into this, and found that YouTube is also literally scamming their customers by artificially inflating viewings, through fake viewings, resulting in that customers of YouTube are paying for something they are never given. Charging for non-existent products seems to be the average in Google these days.

VC-based pump and dump schemes

Maybe this is only Google. Surely other Silicon Valley based companies are better, right? You'd be wrong for thinking that. Sure, there's the occasional fresh breeze such as OpenAI - But you could replace the above occurrences of the word "Google" with literally any other Silicon Valley based company.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Whatever ...

For crying out loud, a year ago I could still not use WebP images on LinkedIn. The fact that WebP is a 10 year old standard seems to be irrelevant. LinkedIn refuses to accept it.

When I built Magic's image conversion library, i went out of my way to ensure we're supporting WebP, knowing it's "the future of images". LinkedIn still can't accept WebP 10 years after the standard was released.

I had to stop using the Facebook app on my phone. For 9 months it was impossible for me to login. I could still use it on my computer through my browser, but for some reasons Facebook refused to allow me to login from my phone for 9 months.

Ignoring the fact that these were the 9 happiest months of my life, not being bothered by "Facebook notifications" while doing anything but Facebook, this is a serious incident - And it took Facebook 9 months to fix it.

Apple is not much better either. I still have the MacBook I bought in 2014, and it works perfectly even today. Since then I've had to buy two new MacBooks because I needed more hardware. Both of these "new and improved" MacBooks have since broken down, while my 10 year old MacBook still works like clockwork - And I constantly have to check if I get the correct number of spaces between words when I write because of that freakin' keyboard joke Apple pulled on the world some 6/7 years ago. Apple product quality is sinking like a stone in water. Apple used to be the definition of high quality. Today they're becoming more and more like "the Lada of the world".

I could also probably mention every single Silicon Valley based Unicorn startup here, being little more than pump and dump schemes, created to artificially pump up stock price, by leveraging corrupt journalists in the industry, and playing upon peoples' inabilities to accurately measure value - But then I'd end up having to create my own dictionary and go through the entire alphabet, resulting in this article ending up being some 500+ exobytes of written text.

My rule of thumb today, is that if it's located in Silicon Valley, it purely statistically have to be garbage


Silicon Valley is in a "quality collapse". Google Chrome for instance is just getting worse and worse for every single "major update" I download. For 6 months now I have had to restart the Google Chrome process if I accidentally restart my backend because of a change in how Chrome is dealing with web sockets. The result for me personally is that I have to kill 15 tabs, destroying an hour worth of work, every time I debug my own code. Inevitably at some point I'll just avoid starting Chrome, and choose Safari or FireFox or something. So far I've resisted the temptation, mostly out of habit, but some beautiful day I betcha I'll transition to FireFox or something - And I've been a Google Chrome user since it was first released some 15 years ago ...

This might not sound like a big deal, until you realise I'm a developer, and software development has ipso facto become impossible on Google Chrome - And a software development revolt was the reason Chrome became popular and could overturn Internet Explorer 15 years ago. As in, the same that threw out IE 15 years ago, is a problem Chrome is facing today.

So when people are surprised of Google's Gemini creating images of black nazis, Chinese vikings, and native American founding fathers of America - I'm thinking ...

Just another day in Silicon Valley

And they cannot fix it, not even in theory, because they're so knee deep into the mud now, that the only way forward is to sink further down into it. Silicon Valley is broken! Don't believe me? Here's their idea of a Nazi Soldier. I'll let the reader interpret the "quality issues" here for themselves ...

Black Nazi

Top comments (6)

dyfet profile image
David Sugar • Edited

25 years ago I did the SV startup "thing" creating OST. We initially just had a shed on the palo alto ring and leased rack space out of it to the California Rocket Society, but we did go all in on the startup thing and had a building in mountainview at one point (near the intersection of hope and castro street, ironically enough).

15 years ago I did the entire Google interview process, and then turned them down at the very end. Part of why relates to quality, but I saw it as a byproduct of a very backward looking management culture, despite the cute perks. Basically they arranged peoples in cubes so that managers could "manage" by watching other people work, which is why they also refused to have remote workers. Their concepts of management felt very 19th century, despite the advanced video conferencing everywhere well before anyone else which was already perfect for remote work (as every actually smart company figured out and used google tech for) that they themselves did not actually use.

10 years ago I was burned down by SV VC's, and never again looked back there for anything. SV is dead to me. And it would be best if it were dead to the rest of the country, too.

polterguy profile image
Thomas Hansen

Wow, some story! Did you write it out somewhere ...?

dyfet profile image
David Sugar

As for my more recent activity with regard to SV VC's, why I had been at war with Eric Prince, what testimony I had chosen to provide to the Muller investigation, how CIA funding is used to undermine SV, etc, all relate to my time developing the Wickr platform last decade, for which amusing I also have patents.

dyfet profile image
David Sugar

This actually does cover the OST part...

Thread Thread
polterguy profile image
Thomas Hansen

Super cool, but you should create something more complete. A complete story of your life. Bayonne seems interesting, but I want to read the gory details. I've carefully read your comments here, and I suspect you could write something really interesting once you've structured your thoughts :)

Thread Thread
dyfet profile image
David Sugar

I believe some parts would be very actively censored though...